Biden’s 2023 budget boosts investment in federal workforce

By on 29/03/2022 | Updated on 29/03/2022
Joe Biden smiles whilst holding a microphone
The fiscal budget 2023 increase aims to strengthen capacity within departments and allow collaboration to support the federal government’s workforce strategy

US president Joe Biden has used the fiscal year 2023 budget to announce a boost to investment in his administration’s workforce strategy with the aim of improving customer service and supporting staffing needs across federal agencies.

The budget document outlines a request for US$418 million for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) salaries and expenses account, around US$88 million more than the 2021 enacted level. It said the increase would strengthen capacity within departments, “allowing further collaboration in support of the federal government’s strategic workforce planning and talent acquisition functions”. The OPM oversees the federal government’s workforce planning model.

“Government faces increasingly complex challenges, the need for federal leaders, managers, and front-line staff with the right skills in the right jobs has never been greater,” the budget document said.

“To meet this need, the budget supports OPM in enhancing its ability to lead federal human capital management, and serve as a central, strategic leader in federal human resources, in alignment with OPM’s strategic plan.”

Read more: Biden’s management agenda prioritises federal employee engagement

The document also said that resources would be allocated to help agencies “increase capacity for recruiting and talent management” in order to support the recruitment needed to deliver on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Resources would also be dedicated specifically to support “talent teams” in each of the 24 major federal agencies, as well as work to streamline hiring practices.

In addition to the increased spend, the budget citied Biden’s previous executive order to help agencies centre services on citizens. This involved budget support for “Federal High-Impact Service Providers”, defined in the document as “services that serve the largest percentage of people, conduct the greatest volume of transactions annually, and have an outsized impact on the lives of the individuals they serve”.

Such services include those delivered through the US Department of Agriculture, which received US$2 million from the budget to create an auxiliary Office of Customer Experience. The office will improve delivery of critical programmes aimed at “farmers, producers, and ranchers”. It will also support the nutrition of more than six million participants in the Women, Infants, and Children programme (WIC).

Read more: Biden pledges to ‘address use of salary history’ in setting federal government pay rates

Biden’s pay bump proposal

The budget also includes Biden’s proposal for the highest pay raise for US feds in 20 years. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) told agencies to prepare for the pay bump of 4.6% in February this year.

This increase would be the biggest pay hike federal workers have seen since the George W. Bush administration granted the workforce the same increase in 2002.

Earlier in the year, civilian federal employees received an average 2.7% pay rise, comprising an across-the-board 2.2% increase, as well as an additional 0.5% locality pay adjustment to compensate federal employees for the higher cost of living in more expensive areas. That figure nearly doubled in the latest fiscal budget.

The pay increase would also apply to military service members, as part of the president’s goal of “honouring the principle of pay parity that I have long advocated for in the US Congress”.

Read more: Biden to propose the highest pay rise for US feds in 20 years, at 4.6%

In a statement, the White House said the budgetary pay adjustment “will help agencies retain qualified employees, empower workers to make their agencies better, create a pipeline of qualified leaders, and provide better services to the public.”

“The budget supports these objectives by ensuring that all those in federal jobs earn at least $15 per hour and providing a pay increase…for civilian and military personnel.”

About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

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